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Hepatitis A clinics today and Saturday

Apr 05 2012

Free hepatitis A vaccination clinics will continue today and Saturday for people who ate at the Fairway Market deli on Quadra Street on certain dates in March.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 1,760 people ranging in age from toddlers to seniors had received the vaccination.

A worker at the store's deli counter was diagnosed as having hepatitis A on Friday. The worker, whose name, age and gender have not been disclosed, won't be at work until he or she has a clean bill of health.

Fairway Market spokesman Robert Jay said that a manager noticed the worker was ill and sent the person home on Friday. When the diagnosis came in, they notified the Vancouver Island Health Authority, as required.

Hepatitis A can be transmitted by an infected person preparing food with inadequately washed hands. Symptoms of the disease, which include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundiced skin, usually don't occur until a week or two after exposure.

VIHA urged anyone who may have eaten food prepared instore on March 18, 19, 20, 22, 25 or 26 to receive a hepatitis A vaccine as a precaution. Any food purchased from the deli during that time should be thrown out.

The alert does not apply to sushi, produce or foods purchased from other areas of the grocery store - Fairway Market store No. 11, located at 2635 Quadra St. - nor does it apply to the other nine Fairway Market stores in Victoria and on Vancouver Island.

The province picks up the tab for the cost of the vaccine, while VIHA is responsible for the cost of the clinics, nursing, health inspections and communications. The costs will not be known until the end of the vaccination process, VIHA spokeswoman Shannon Marshall said.

The free vaccinations will continue today and Saturday at 1947 Cook St., from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Saturday shots are intended for people who had deli food on March 25 and 26. The vaccine is only effective if given within 14 days of exposure.

There is a two-week period in which a person can carry the virus without symptoms, which allows it to spread undetected. Once a person has had jaundice for two weeks, they are no longer considered infectious.

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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